Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Customers: Part 19 - Calling Doctor Elvis

   "I like Elvis. Do you like Elvis?"
   "I'm a Beatle person."
   "Well, can't you be fans of both?"
   "Not normally," I said. "You're either a fan of Elvis or a fan of the Beatles."
   I was mowing through DVD inventory, my thoughts preoccupied. A month earlier, after I had inventoried the section, I almost lost my mind. DVD's had suffered 10% shrink. Not dozens, hundreds of discs missing. When I reported my numbers to The Boss, he simply shrugged.
   "Welcome to my world," he said.
   10% didn't strike him as outrageous for a high theft section. To me that was too much. I decided to re-inventory and pinpoint the biggest problems. Though The Boss predicted, "New Releases. New Action. Porn."
   My mind was busy tallying printout titles with hard copies, when the Presley fan base started firing questions.
   "That girl likes Elvis and the Beatles," he persisted.
   "That Girl?" I replied absently, "Marlo Thomas?"
   "What? Who's Mar -- "
   "That's a joke, Biff. Look, no one gets to claim both Elvis and Beatles. Doesn't work that way. The mop-tops displaced the King. Likewise, you can't be an Elvis and Sinatra fan, since Elvis displaced Frank. A person who rallies for both is faithless. Wishy washy or greedy, definitely not loyal. Same rule applies for Beatle fans. Everyone gets one favorite. Not two. If you said you had two, then you really don't have a favorite. Person like that probably doesn't even have a favorite ice cream flavor."
   "You're so smart," the guy gushed at me. He looked early thirties, wore black rimmed glasses. Blue flannel shirt. It was July, temps were 102 outside. He either had an unpleasant skin fungus, or he was nuts.
   "Thanks. You're looking at the by-product of a quality Appalachia education."
   "I like Elvis," he cranked up again. "And I like Elvis movies. I really like Elvis movies."
   I stopped checking DVD's.
   "Dude, nobody likes Elvis movies. They're bad. They're not stupid bad, or trashy bad, or kitschy bad. They're boring bad."
   "When I watch my Elvis movies ... I put on my Elvis costume."
   Ding dong. Completely nuts. I realized I was in the E section. Mister Shopper was hunting for more priceless Presley celluloid. I should have walked. Moved my ass to the T's or elsewhere. Yet, I was the methodical type ... and ... I was intrigued by wacky people.
   I gazed about for Pat. I wanted to share this gentleman with her.
   "You wear black leather Elvis, or that flashy gold lamé, or the white spacesuit?" I prodded.
   "I got a poster of Change Of Habit," he continued. "That's my favorite."
   Late 60's flick with Mary Tyler Moore. I momentarily confused it with another 60's film she made with George Peppard. "Is that the one where Elvis is a doctor?" I asked. "Isn't the main female a nun? Was he trying to bang a nun?" Obviously, I suffered faulty recall for this classic.
   "Elvis is Doctor Carpenter," my client informed me. "He treats patients in the ghetto."
   I quickly searched through the store E's, then the C's. I scanned my printouts. "I don't think we stock this any more."
   "When we watch Change Of Habit I have a white lab coat I put on."
   Shit. I'd screwed up.
   "I dress as Doctor Carpenter, I even have a stethoscope. My girlfriend wears a nun outfit. She's Sister Michelle."
   Damn, damn, damn.
   "Then when Let Us Pray comes on, and I start singing along ... "
   Yeah, he told me. The guy was borderline retarded and had no check switch.
   Me? I don't have an excuse.
   So now I have this really ill image of beer budget Elvis fans spawning in special outfits on their trailer sofa.
   That I can't shake.
   But I'm sharing.

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